Three Students Diagnosed with Whooping Cough

November 22, 2011 | 12:24pm

In San Diego County, three new cases of whooping cough were reported this week where other children may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease, County Health and Human Services Agency officials said today.

The total number of  pertussis, or whooping cough, cases reported so far this year is 405. In 2010, a record 1,144 cases were reported in San Diego County, including two infant deaths. See below for details about the new cases.

“Symptoms of pertussis may not occur until weeks after the potential exposure, which is why parents need to be alerted to cases at their children’s schools,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “The single most important way to prevent the illness is to obtain the pertussis vaccine.  Vaccines are not always 100 percent effective but they are the best defense against whooping cough.”

Parents can get the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for their children through their primary care physicians. Students who are not covered by a medical insurance plan can obtain the shot from a local retail pharmacy for a fee, or from a County Public Health center. 

A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit www.sdiz.org.

This week’s new pertussis cases where there has been a potential for public exposure are:

  • A 13-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Innovation Middle School the in San Diego Unified School District.
  • A 3-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Coast Kids Preschool in Carlsbad. 
  • A 6-year-old who was due for another immunization and attends Willow Elementary School in the San Ysidro School District.